(I have to use this gif again, because it’s just too perfect. Perhaps it’ll become my signature gif.)
We took our son to see “Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs 2” and squirmed miserably through the whole thing. (My husband even nodded off at one point.) Although it did an admirable job of not driving home jokes from the previous movie too much into the ground, the pacing was completely off, the transitions were sloppily done, and the whole thing felt badly in need of more work. And the new characters took weird to a whole other level; the premise was fantastical enough itself without needing a science fiction villain. I think it’s interesting that every bit of advertising I’ve seen has completely eliminated the new characters.
It’s especially sad because I have to contrast it with the last children’s movie I saw, “Despicable Me 2,” which left me feeling like I’d been slugged in the jaw by the sexism fairy. I know it’s my job as a mom to talk to my kid about things that offend me, but how do I even bring this up? “Well young son, that scene with the drugged woman being dragged around unconscious and treated as a joke and an object upset me because it reminded me of a real live case I hope you have never heard of in which a bunch of men did actually that to a drunk woman.” The other, myriad instances of sexism and racism would also be hard to explain without the background to understand them.
By contrast, “Cloudy 2” has a smart, straight-talking, and capable female character, who does some of the rescuing herself. Although she is in peril at times, she’s never alone — most of the other characters are in just as deep. And although her relationship with the movie’s hero has a touch of romance, they are obviously true best friends.
Son thought the movie was awesome. He loves cuteness, and as a budding marketing genius, immediately saw the potential for adorable stuffed toys (he wants a “Barry” strawberry lovey, and he shall have one — when they’re available commercially and not $80 on ebay.) It’s kind of cool too, now that I think about it, to see a movie that isn’t marketed specifically for girls but has so much cute in it. And unlike, say, “Wreck-it Ralph,” its cuteness isn’t gendered.
So if nothing else, I guess I can be happy that my son didn’t recognize how crappy this otherwise was, and gets to be exposed to some more positive messages about women than he usually gets from movies. I’ll just be sure to have a crossword puzzle book handy when it comes to Netflix.